Book Review: The Final Reconciliation by Todd Keisling

“The Final Reconciliation plays out like a nightmarish Behind the Music VH1 episode, its climax unforgettable and epic.”

An aging rocker reveals the dark circumstances surrounding his band and their final gig. The Yellow Kings are a promising metal band. They are killing it on the road and leaving many fans in their wake.  When they are met by an alluring young woman after a show, their path to rock stardom crosses into the realms of an ancient mythos. Camilla, the self-proclaimed gypsy travels with them to LA, Dim Carcosa as she calls it. They are given a new record deal and before them lay the dreams of so many struggling musicians.

The narrator, Aidan Cross, reveals his suspicions of the temptress Camilla. The strange way she treats the band members, both sexually and threatening at the same time, it was far too ritualistic when he looks back on it, and how she ensnares the lead singer. The recording of their first full length album is wrought with warnings and visions of robed figures, telling them to take off their masks. It should have been enough to make The Yellow Kings run from LA, from Dim Carcosa, but the music is too powerful. The thoughts of becoming truly famous keep them on their path to destruction.

Their final show is the culmination of being pulled into the lands beyond, mythological to those who only read about it but bloody and nightmarish to a single survivor. Aidan Cross is forever changed and finds that he can never forget what happened. It’s a short read of only a hundred and six pages but it packs a definite punch. The writing is intriguing, intense, and also darkly poetic in its description of the nightmarish land of Carcosa and its residents. Camilla is the perfect seductress, bearing not only her unique beauty as a weapon but the hypnotic draw of the faceless king and the unshakeable power of Carcosa. She is inescapable. The moral is clear yet the characters cannot turn away from the danger ahead of them. Instead they drift towards it like an out of control ship bound to run aground on the shores of madness awaiting them. Who could turn away from the promise of fame and fortune, even if along the way some incredibly haunting shit happens? It supposedly happened to Led Zeppelin and Iron Maiden after all, and they never found themselves in the court of the King in Yellow. They can feel the magic in their music, it bleeds from their eyes and leaves them nearly unconscious. Camilla refuses to allow them to quit.

It is plain Todd Keisling has a soul for dark writing, but the feeling comes through that in an alternate world he is also a musician, traveling about the lands and spreading his magic like a bard of old. His other offerings to the horror world, A Life Transparent and The Liminal Man have met with great reception along with some of the other anthologies he has been in. His craftsmanship is apparent in The Final Reconciliation, with unforgettable lines that draw the reader closer to the faceless king himself like, “We’re all wearing pallid masks.” The lyrics of The Yellow Kings are also very nice, reminiscent of some doomy prog-metal, rich with gloomy poetry. “Your resistance to truth is vile/ I don’t need your repudiation/ You can suffer in torment while/ We call for the final reconciliation.”

The story of The Final Reconciliation plays out like a nightmarish Behind the Music VH1 episode, its climax unforgettable and epic. The very end is a kick in the teeth that leaves you smiling mischievously through the blood. The cover art is beautiful and the layout makes it appear like an album with liner notes and tracks separating the chapters, all very clever of Crystal Lake Publishing. The effect certainly adds to the overall experience. There has also been some Yellow Kings shirts made that are really killer for any collector. Those seeking some King in Yellow mythos mixed with a heavy-metal tour diary, this is the book you are looking for.

                                                                                                                                MICHELLE GARZA


Publisher: Crystal Lake Publishing
Paperback: 106 pp
Release Date: 3 February 2017

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1 comment

  1. Great review Michelle.

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